So where do you go —musically, professionally, personally?
“One step at a time. I don’t know what people think of me. But its okay, I have to say what I want to say. I want to write, maybe a collection of stories.”- Bartika Eam Rai
Bartika Rai is a rising star of Nepal. She is known by her stage name Bartika Eam Rai and her stage middle name, “Eam,” is a tribute to her father. She is a Nepali singer-songwriter based in New York City. Her soulful lyricism and haunting vocals were heartfelt and moving from where she garnered a significant fan following in Nepal.
Bartika grew up in Lalitpur. At around 11 years of age, she was already performing before small crowds. She recorded a number of children’s songs. She stayed at boarding school and finished her SLC from Budhanilkantha School. She has always been a hardworking person. She never wanted to stay idle and started working right after SLC. Her first job was as a primary grade teacher-assistant at United School, Lalitpur.
Bartika Rai started applying to be a writer since she was 14 years old. After her hard work and application request finally her article got published at the age of 16 and an internship at 19. She has written many incomplete novels. She trained as a musician and vocalist under Shreeti Pradhan, Upendra Lal Singh, Roshan Sharma, John Shrestha and Gurudev Kaamat.
Then it was only after moving to the United States that she began to pursue music professionally as a career.
Bartika started her musical career as a vocalist for a metal band called Gothica in 2010. Then she left the band to become a solo artist. In 2015 she moved to New work city, Rai began to work with the Nepali-American musician Diwas Gurung on Bimbaakash(first album).
Then she released her first single Khai from her first album in 2016 which was resonated with Nepali audiences in a manner Rai had never expected. The song was a mournful ballad about loss, longing and loneliness which got super popularity on YouTube. Bartika Rai won the title of “Song of the Year” and “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance” at the 2074 Hits FM Music Awards for Khai. She also won ”Album of the Year” for Bimbaakash her first album.
In 2018 she released her second album Taral. The album was supported by tours across the United States and England. She wrote her second album Taral dedicating it to her father whom she lost at a young age.
Following her second album, she released her third album Si Ma Na in 2019.
The words come first and then the music. Is that what your process is like?
“Sometimes I have the words and I put them to music. I feel inspired. And other times, I’ll just be jamming and I’ll get a melody. Technically, I’m very limited. I don’t even know many chords. All the improvisation I do is in my vocals. Sometimes it starts with writing, sometimes it’s a progression.”- Bartika Eam Rai